Pope Francis has made a change to an annual ceremony held for new archbishops, and it's a modification that’s being seen as an effort to decentralize church authority. The pallium ceremony, where archbishops receive the long white woolen band that lies over their liturgical vestments, will be held in their local archdiocese rather than in Rome.
The announcement, reported Wednesday by the Jesuit magazine America, was confirmed by the Vatican Thursday. For years the pallium was given to new archbishops by the pontiff. Now, they will receive the vestment from the apostolic nuncio in their respective countries.
The new archbishops are still invited to Rome on June 29. There, Francis will bless the pallium at the Mass on the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. The archbishops will receive their vestments at a ceremony at a later date in their home dioceses.
Monsignor Guido Marini, master of liturgical ceremonies at the Vatican, says the change serves two purposes. “It maintains all the significance of the celebration of June 29 that underlines the relationship of hierarchical communion between the Holy Father and the new archbishops. At the same time, this adds -- with a significant gesture -- this bond with the local church," Marini told Vatican Radio. He added that the change is a “small modification” that will allow “more faithful to be present at this rite” since they will not have to fly to Rome.
This idea was introduced by Francis when he was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 2001. At the time he urged local parishioners to donate to the poor in Buenos Aires rather than fly to see the ceremony at the Vatican.
Catholic columnist Marge Fenelon says the change is a welcome one.
“One of the things Pope Francis does best, in my opinion, is reach out – to everyone,” Fenelon wrote for Patheos. “The changes in the pallium investiture ceremony are one more way for [him] to do just that.”